Metro gives east Portland bikeway and safety projects highest rankings for federal funding

Posted by on October 20th, 2016 at 11:09 am

The top-ranked project would make walking and rolling to 82nd Avenue and Gateway much easier.

The Cully neighborhood would get a new biking and walking “parkway” and big roads that run through two major commercial districts in east Portland near I-205 could be updated and vastly improved for people on bikes and foot if the City of Portland is able to convince Metro to give them the cash to do it.

A $130 million pot of federal funding is up for grabs through Metro’s “regional flexible funding” program. Of that amount, $33 million is up for transportation projects. Unlike most federal funds, RFF money isn’t tied to the federal gas tax and can be spent on a wide variety of projects — including infrastructure that makes it easier to walk and roll.

The 31 proposed projects — four in the freight category where there’s $7.3 million available and 27 in the active transportation category where there’s $25.8 million available — come from pre-existing lists put together by cities and counties throughout the region. A committee at Metro has already given each project a technical ranking and PBOT has earned gold and silver: Their plan to update NE Halsey street and make it easier to walk and roll to the 82nd Avenue MAX light rail station is ranked #1 and their “walking and biking parkway” through the Cully neighborhood on NE 72nd is ranked #2.

Here’s the entire list with final rankings on the right (I’ve put a star next to PBOT’s projects):

The Halsey project is estimated to cost $5.1 million total (PBOT is requesting $3 million from Metro) and would build a new separated bike lane from 65th to 83rd, a neighborhood greenway connection between Tillamook and Halsey along 65th and 81st, and a new multi-use path that would connect 81st (at Halsey) to a new path over I-205 near Gateway Green.

The $6 million Cully Parkway project (PBOT is asking Metro for half that amount) would build a multi-use path on both sides the west side of NE 72nd Avenue from Killingsworth to Fremont.

If funded, the City’s NE Halsey Safety and Access to Transit project would be just the latest bit of good news for this currently auto-centric “high crash corridor.” As we reported last month, PBOT has a shovel-ready project to redesign outer Halsey with buffered bike lanes and new sidewalks between 122nd and the Gresham border. In between these two City projects, the Portland Development Commission has already announced plans to build protected bikeways on the Halsey-Weidler couplet just east of I-205, making it one of the bike-friendliest commercial streets in the entire city.

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Map of PDC’s Gateway Regional Center shows location of Halsey and Stark in relation to I-205.

In addition to the changes on Halsey, PBOT has also requested $300,000 to further develop these projects and do public outreach not just on Halsey but further south on Stark Street as well. Among the goals of their Outer Stark/Halsey Complete Streets project is an, “Evaluation of alternative cross-sections for all roadway segments and major intersection approaches to determine optimal allocation of right-of-way between medians, turn lanes, median islands, travel lanes, bike lanes, sidewalks, parking, etc.” This is the type of outreach and analysis they need to do prior creating concrete designs for significant streetscape changes (like the ones planned for Halsey) in the future. This project has been ranked sixth out of the 27 flexible fund project candidates.

(Note: Both the Halsey-Weidler couplet and the Stark-Washington couplet are part of the PDC’s Gateway Regional Center urban renewal area.)

The key to these strong rankings isn’t just because these projects would improve safety for everyone, it’s because they would do it in a place with above average concentrations of low-income, elderly, and non-white households. “Residents of these communities, many of whom have limited or no access to motor vehicles, and some of whom had been displaced from inner Portland neighborhoods with better active transportation infrastructure,” reads PBOT’s grant application, “will benefit from the ultimately constructed project by having access to safer infrastructure for walking, bicycling and accessing transit.”

If you like the sound of these projects, now is the time to comment. Metro has a great interactive comment map where you can learn more about all the projects. You can also email transportation@oregonmetro.gov or come to a public hearing at 4:00 pm on October 27th at Metro headquarters (600 NE Grand Ave). To see the full project grant applications and learn more about regional flexible funds, see this page at OreognMetro.gov.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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37 Comments
  • Avatar
    Eric Leifsdad October 20, 2016 at 11:31 am

    I’m really tired of ranking and re-ranking the importance of capital projects to build essential space for non-car transportation years or decades from now while we give cars the run of everything in the meantime. Every street should be safe to walk and bike on — any portions that aren’t should be closed to cars until the problem is fixed. (Drivers, pipe down. “Closed” still only means slow down or go around. It’s not like we’re going to force you to walk.)

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. October 20, 2016 at 12:03 pm

      This is what I keep saying. We can avoid this whole East Portland vs. the rest of the city if we just stopped funding car transportation projects and directed the funds towards active and public transport. If funds are limited, then why are we wasting them on massively expensive highway projects that provide very little in return? Even for the price of just one highway interchange ($70M in this case), we could massively improve the cycling and walking environment city-wide.

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    Chris I October 20, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    The road diet on Halsey is badly needed. That street absolutely does not need 4 auto lanes. I ride it eastbound in the early morning and just take the right lane. On the way home in the afternoon I have to detour to Tillamook because there are more cars on the road, going very fast.

    Oh, and the Halsey overpass should be included in this. The current state is dangerous.

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      Terry D-M October 20, 2016 at 9:30 pm

      Actually, this is the Halsey overpass. The way I understand it from the project manger is that there will be a protected two way bike facility on the south side of the overpass from Gateway to 92 nd. The undercrosing to connect to the 205 MUP and Gateway Green is coming from a different funding source, different project.

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        Lester Burnham October 21, 2016 at 8:16 am

        No I think inner NE and SE need more green paint somewhere on the road before we can address anything east of 82nd.

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        Chris I October 21, 2016 at 10:34 am

        Sorry, I should have clarified. It needs to be fixed east of 92nd as well. All the way to 102nd. A 6ft wide sidewalk on the north side for pedestrians and bikes to share in both directions (currently overgrown with weeds in several spots) is not acceptable.

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          Lester Burnham October 21, 2016 at 1:24 pm

          It’s pretty scary climbing that sidewalk heading east bound. I always wonder when some speeding car or truck is going to lose it on the curve and hop the sidewalk. Overall it’s a pretty poor piece of infrastructure.

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      Terry D-M October 20, 2016 at 9:41 pm

      http://www.odotr1stip.org/explore-by-program/enhance/tillamook-holladay-oregon-pacific-bikeway-t-hop/

      That is the MUP project, like the 70 s Bikeway it us coming from STIP money, not regional flexible funds.

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    SE Rider October 20, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Plug for the Brentwood-Darlington project (#11) which will complete much needed sidewalks on the two main arterials in the neighborhood, as well as create the neighborhoods first greenway. These improvements are desperately needed for safe routes to schools, currently kids have to walk in the street in sections to avoid mud puddles.

    I agree that it is really silly to pit these project against each other as they’re all important and valuable.

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    Kari Schlosshauer October 20, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    And while you’re in there commenting, you may want to take a look at some of the other “active transportation projects” that may in fact be a thinly veiled road widening with nothing but paint for a bikelane on a freight route and 40mph (non-Portland projects, natch).

    And comment appropriately.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty October 20, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      Unfortunately, Portland has some 40MPH facilities with bike lanes as well…

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        nuovorecord October 20, 2016 at 2:54 pm

        No reason to keep making those mistakes moving forward, though.

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        Kari Schlosshauer October 20, 2016 at 3:21 pm

        Certainly, but at the least they are not proposing building any new ones in the year 2016.

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        curly February 15, 2018 at 8:05 pm

        Not in your ‘hood…..

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      Bob K. October 20, 2016 at 2:44 pm

      Good point. I reflexively commented on the projects I liked in my area, but ignored the suburban ones. Will go back through them.

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    nuovorecord October 20, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    I wouldn’t call that Outer Stark/Halsey project anywhere close to “shovel ready.” PBOT’s funding request is for project development and design. That’s not indicative of “shovel ready.”

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      Beeblebrox October 20, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Just to clarify, the “shovel-ready” project is a separate general fund request (still pending) to build some missing sidewalks, improve the bike lanes, and add crossings in the near-term (next year or two). This Metro request is for project development funding to figure out a more major and comprehensive streetscape redesign, to more fundamentally improve safety along the whole corridor rather than spot improvements. Something more like the Foster project. Make sense?

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    I wear many hats October 20, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    I just sent an email prior to commenting on this thread. How many above can say the same? They just need to hear support. So give it to them.

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    David Lewis October 20, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Portland is not a war zone, so can someone explain to me why the projects proposed here don’t already exist?

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      SE Rider October 21, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      $$$ and will.

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        Eric Leifsdad October 21, 2016 at 2:27 pm

        just will

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        curly February 15, 2018 at 8:02 pm

        And, advocacy

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    Matt- Bike Milwaukie October 20, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    It seems a bit premature to be reporting on this considering the ‘committee at Metro’ has only met once, out of the three total meetings they will have.

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    Todd Hudson October 21, 2016 at 8:26 am

    The Halsey project is an improvement, but it still leaves that area pretty screwy for safe biking. Living just north of Madison NS, there isn’t a really great route heading points south, just a cattywumpus bunch of residential streets. The connection from Halsey to NE 81st is nice, but the Madison-RoseCityGOlfCourse monolith still means riding on 82nd or going over to 72nd Drive to go north.

    Improving the connection to Gateway would be nice too – either by widening the bike/walk route on the Halsey flyover, that rumored tunnel under 205, or building a bike/ped bridge across the highway. I’m guessing the last two won’t happen soon because a bridge is huge $$$ and a tunnel would immediately become a huge bum camp.

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      Chris I October 21, 2016 at 10:42 am

      With the popularity of golf in steep decline, I think there is now justification to decommission the back 9 of Rose City and convert it to a park/green space. They could then add two paved MUP connections: one would connect 78th and Thompson north to Madison HS, creating a North/South alternative to 82nd. The second would connect west from Thompson to 72nd (re-purpose the existing maintenance road), adding an additional east/west alternative. The rest of the space would be allowed to reforest and could include walking/running paths, which would be accessible from the west/south/east by removing the existing fencing.

      – Improved connections for pedestrians/cyclists
      – Lower operating costs for the city
      – Increased park/recreation space in a neighborhood that needs it badly.

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        Alex Reedin October 21, 2016 at 11:56 am

        Seriously, why does the City own SIX golf courses? It seems incredibly absurd to me – an inequitable and inefficient use of public resources. The parkland used for golf courses serves many fewer people, and a set of people skewed richer and whiter, than it could if it was used as other types of parkland. Personally I’d be in favor of developing a portion of our current inner/mid-eastside golf courses as low-income housing but that would face huge political obstacles from neighbors I’m sure. https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/63560

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          curious October 21, 2016 at 1:23 pm

          Kinda funny. I do know a lot of golfers here. It’s a sport kids play too. I can’t think of a time I haven’t seen people them near me. That said it would be awesome if a bike trail and small creeks bisected them, so you could be free of traffic and others could enjoy the quiet spaces. Soon enough the city will infil and you will be SO THANKFUL of the little bits of green left.

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            Chris I October 21, 2016 at 1:49 pm

            I don’t think anyone is advocating that we pave over the golf courses. We just want space that everyone can use. I also know people that golf, but nearly all of them are near retirement age or in retirement. Golf courses are closing all over the country due to lack of interest, and that trend is going to continue as baby boomers die.

            And unfortunately, golf is typically incompatible with any other land use, due to the hazard of high-velocity projectiles. The city could build trails at Rose City, but any users would be risk getting hit by balls, and I’m sure a lot of the golfers would complain about the distraction. The back 9 on Rose City is large enough to host running/walking trails, single track for mountain bikes, pump tracks, etc. Golf takes up a lot of space, per user.

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        Todd Hudson October 24, 2016 at 9:04 am

        There’s actually potential for a connection along the MHS/RCGC property lines. You can *almost* bypass 82nd going behind Madison (I tried). The biggest challenge would be removing/moving fences and re-grading (which really isn’t a big challenge) – that would connect Glenhaven Park to that stretch of NE 81st in that map. Though negotiating with two government bureacracies (Schools and Parks) would be a big impediment.

        Removing entire golf courses is tilting at windmills.

        I found that just east of 82nd, there’s a cattywumpus-but-fun way to stay off it. Even a trail going from Russel Pl. to the Dharma Rain Center (which connects to Siskyou). It resembles a short singletrack (too bad they used a deep layer of pea gravel on it).

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          Alex Reedin October 24, 2016 at 9:07 am

          Yeah, I know… we’re still using public money to *buy* golf courses mostly for the middle-class and rich. But we can at least remind ourselves of how inequitable the choices our local government makes are.

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    Bjorn October 21, 2016 at 8:33 am

    I have heard that the cully project would create a multiuse path on the east side of 72nd but would do nothing on the west side of 72nd. (note in your article it says there would be a MUP on both sides of the street) I live on the west side of the street and my property has a sidewalk but that sidewalk just disappears as you walk north toward killingsworth. I like the idea of a protected MUP on the east side of the street, but we want to see the sidewalk built north to killingsworth too. As an aside, the city inexplicably after an appeal allowed a developer to put in 3 new houses on 72nd without building the normally required sidewalk. The people in those houses now park multiple cars where the sidewalk should be forcing people to walk in the street to get around them.

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      Beeblebrox October 23, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      The project would build a multi use path on the west side, not the east side. Jonathan was mistaken.

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        Bjorn October 26, 2016 at 11:55 am

        Do you know if there is a map of what is going to be done where? I am having a hard time visualizing what is going to change and I live on part of 72nd that will be impacted so we’d really like to know.

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        Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 3, 2017 at 10:47 am

        thanks guys. i’ve edited the post. sorry for the mistake and confusion.

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    curious October 21, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    I am curious about the safety of the proposed bike lanes because there is a bike lane on the same street as the bus. I am so sick of being doored and nearly doored, stopped by ubers and others pulling over in bike lanes to let people out, and having to weave around buses that are so long it’s frightful when you can’t be seen. Does this make sense to everyone else that it would be on the same street as a bus, rather than another. Ulitmately I really want the bikes running the middle of the road, away from cars or lanes as a part of the sidewalk, so kids can be on them safely.

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    Daily Cyclist October 24, 2016 at 10:42 am

    As I cyclist, I see a majority of other bikers confused by all the new bike facilities. We need more education to accompany all the new green paint. And, as a pragmatist, I’d like to see some comprehensive return on investment analysis.

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